Henrico house fire ruled an accident

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - An early morning house fire brings new concern when it comes to your air conditioner.  An electrical issue could spark flames in an instant.  No one was hurt.  The family living there is now staying with friends.  Investigators say an air conditioner sparked the fire.

Firefighters say even though we are starting to see some more pleasant, cooler days, they are on high alert right now about electrical issues like the fire they battled this morning.  What they don't want is for people to let their guard down before summer ends.

It was a busy morning for this typically quiet neighborhood on Alvarado Road near the intersection of Skipwith and Forest in Henrico's West End.  This fire broke out around 3:40 Wednesday.

Three people live here, but everyone was able to get out safely.  Firefighters had a tough battle with heavy fire and smoke coming from the attic.  The fire marshal ruled it an accident saying the fire was caused by a common summer electrical issue.

Capt. Chris Buehren with Henrico Fire says, "All points lead to the heating, venting and air conditioning unit that covered the 2nd floor of the home."

Henrico firefighters say while they haven't seen many other air conditioner related fires this summer, they are aware of the potential problems.  Although the extreme heat is likely behind us, this is the Richmond area, and air conditioners will be running throughout September.  Firefighters say the cool down is actually concerning because people may not worry as much about overloading their electrical system.

Buehren says, "We are half way through the month of August with still some hot days left ahead of us; the air conditioning units have been working extremely hard this summer, so even though you've serviced your ac units in the beginning of the summer months to prepare them for summer, don't let your guard down now."

Fortunately, there are a few simple things you can do to keep your house and family safe.

Buehren says, "Continue to change your filters; make sure you are not overloading circuits with window units or fans or things of that nature; just use those precautions

Call a professional if you see any sparking or notice outlets overheating.  A tripped breaker could also be a sign of a problem.

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